Windows 2000 Software Distribution
Software may be packaged for Windows systems in Windows installer files which have an extension of ".msi". The Windows Installer utilities can be used to package applications into Windows installer packages if they are not already in these packages. Other packages include:
- Transform files - Files have a ".mst" extension and are used to customize applications. Complements the ".msi" Windows installer files.
- Patch files - Files have a ".msp" extension and are used to apply software fixes (patches) to applications. Complements the ".msi" Windows installer files.
- ZAP files - Applications that don't use the ".msi" file format for the Windows Installer Service can be set up for distribution by creating a text file with a ".zap" file extension. This method is not as flexible as the ".msi" package files.
Software Installation Utilities
Installation services and utilities include:
- Windows Installer Service - On Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, and 2000 systems. The service installs package files with the ".msi" extension. This sservice is used by the client computer.
- Windows 2000 IntelliMirror utility can be used to manage software from anywhere on the organization's network.
- Microsoft Management Console software installation snap-in can be used to assign applications to computers, organizational units, or users by using group policies.
- Add/Remove Programs Control Panel applet - Applications can be placed on an Active Directory distribution location (published) where users can get applications. The Add/Remove Programs Control Panel applet can then be used by the user to install the software.
- WinInstall - Written by Veritas software, it is included on the Windows 2000 Server CD. It is used to edit, view, and create application installation package files.
Ways to Distribute Software
- Assignment - This method is not by the user choice and can be assigned to the following:
- Computer - The software is installed when the computer boots.
- User - A shortcut for the software is placed on the user's desktop when the user logs into the domain. The software is installed when the user clicks on the shortcut to run the application.
- Publication - The software can be installed by using the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel applet. The software will be available on the list of available programs in the "Add New Programs" dialog box.
Software Distribution Methods
- Push Model - Microsoft's System Management Service (SMS) uses this model. SMS works for Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, and 2000 client systems. Software is deployed to selected users and computers based on the administrators' choices. This model helps control software licensing, use of network bandwidth, and can determine whether clients have sufficeint system hardware to support the application.
- Pull Model - When users need the software, they pull it from its stored location. Windows 2000 distribution features are compliant with group policies. The administrators must be sure licensing is done properly when this method is used. This model can overuse valuable network bandwidth, and can't determine if clients have sufficient hardware to run the software.
- Windows 2000 Remote Installation Service (RIS) - Windows 2000 Professional can be installed on computers that can boot to the network using a BIOS program running from their network card. This is called Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE). A Windows 2000 Professional image with desired applications can be created using the RIPREP utility.
Group Policy Software Settings
In the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Group Policy snap-in, one of the settings, in both computer and user configuration, is software settings. This is used to set the policy for deploying applications. The Software Settings dialog box has the following tabs:
- General - Allows setting the following:
- Set the Default Package Location for applications.
- New Packages Options:
- Display the Deply Software dialog box.
- Publish - The softeare is automatically published.
- Assign - Assign the software (without the user's choice) to a computer or user.
- Advanced published or assigned
- Installation User Interface Options:
- Uninstall the application when they fall out of the scope of management (policies management) checkbox.
- File Extensions - Allows files to be set to be associated with the application.
- Categories - Allows the application to be listed in a category that is displayed when users use the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs applet to select "Add New Programs".
Client Option Configuration
In the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Group Policy snap-in, under the "User Configuration" and "Windows Settings" nodes is a selection "Remote Installation Services". Clicking on this allows a "Choice Options" icon to appear in the right pane. Under each selection group are the options:
- Allow - Allows the setting it is associated with to be set by administrators and other users.
- Don't Care - Allow or deny options are determined by higher level Active Directory objects.
- Deny - The setting may not be chosen by administrators or users.
One of these choices are selected in each selection group. The choice options section groups are:
- Automatic Setup - The administrator specifies installation options and the client cannot make selections.
- Custom Setup - The client or administrator can choose specific options.
- Restart Setup- The client or administrator can restart RIS setup if the connection was lost during a previous session.
- Tools - Allows access to different Client Administration Wizard tools.
Microsoft Office properties dialog box tabs:
- General - Friendly Name, Version and package name.
- Deployment - Options:
- Deployment type is published or assigned.
- Deployment Options:
- Auto-install the application by file extension activation - The program is installed when a user tries to open a file associated with the application.
- Uninstall the application when it falls out of the scope of management (policies management).
- Do not display this poackage in the Add/Remove Programs control panel.
- Installation User Interface Options:
- Upgrades - Upgrade options.
- Categories - Two columns:
- Software categories from the group policies software installation properties node.
- Shows the selected categories for the software package.
- Modifications - The transform files (with .mst extension) are configured here.
- Security - Shows the DACL for the users and groups that may use the package.